December 23, 2018 2:49 pm

Manitoba Dental Association wants to open dental emergency room in Winnipeg

The Manitoba Dental Association has proposed the province open a dental emergency room for patients seeking urgent dental care.

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For many Manitobans, getting a terrible toothache can mean a trip to the hospital, but that could be changing if the Manitoba Dental Association has its way.

Association president Dr. Cory Sul says too many people are ending up in hospital emergency rooms due to dental issues that could be solved with a trip to the dentist.

He would like to see the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and the province partner up to help patients and divert people from hospital emergency rooms.

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“It costs about $625 for one patient to go into the ER and find out they have a dental problem,” said Sul, adding that a trip to see a dentist would cost about $45.

“They’re not able to get any treatment there, they’re just able to get antibiotics or painkillers and then they’re sent home.”

Sul says such trips to hospital emergency rooms are costing the WRHA $3.2 million per year.

READ MORE: Manitoba ER wait times most improved in Canada, but still one of the worst

Sul wants to see the province work with his association to open up a dental emergency room close to hospital emergency rooms that would provide service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“They could see a dentist and find out what’s wrong and get X-rays, which isn’t available at current ERs. Not only would they be able to get antibiotics or painkillers but with the same costs they could get the treatments actually done,” he said.

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In the meantime, Sul says people should try to find a dentist if they are experiencing a problem with their teeth instead of making a trip to the hospital.

READ MORE: Winnipeg dental office provides free care to families in need

“Currently, if your own dentist isn’t available — which every dentist should be (available) after hours for their own patients’ emergencies — but if you don’t have a dentist, pick up the phone book or go online and you can find a dentist willing to help you.”

Sul is hoping to get a meeting with the minister of health in the new year.

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